The English language is full of idioms, phrases, and expressions that have different meanings than the individual words imply. Many of these are steeped in history and carry cultural significance. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of some of the most common English idioms, as well as give examples of how to use them in sentences.
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English Idioms with Their Meanings
Read More: Vocabulary: Words With Meaning and Example
A Cat in Gloves Catches No Mice
If you are too careful and polite, you may not obtain what you want.
e.g. – Negotiate carefully, but remember: a cat in gloves catches no mice!
A Cloud On The Horizon
A problem or difficulty that is likely to happen in the future.
e.g. – The only cloud on the horizon is the physics exam in June- I’m sure I’ll do fine in all the others.
A Second Bite Of The Cherry
Another opportunity to do something.
e.g. – My team was eliminated in the second stage, but they’ll get a second bite of the cherry next world cup.
As Free As a Bird
Completely free to do what you want and without any worries.
e.g. – My dad’s very happy, he’s as free as a bird since he retired.
A Snake in The Grass
Someone who pretends to be your friend while secretly doing things to harm you.
e.g. – It’s upsetting to learn that someone you once viewed as a good colleague is a snake in the grass .
At The Eleventh Hour
At the last possible moment.
e.g. – Our team won after they scored a goal at the eleventh hour.
Be More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys
To be very funny or enjoyable.
e.g. – Their show was one of the funniest I’ve ever seen – more fun than a barrel of monkeys !
Be Skating On Thin Ice
To be doing something that is dangerous or involves risks.
e.g.- She’s skating on thin ice by lying to the police.
To ask for help when you do not need it, with the result that no one believes you when help is necessary.
e.g.- My sister has cried wolf so many times. It’s difficult to know if there’s a problem or not.
Down in the Mouth
Unhappy; to be sad
e.g.– Are you OK? You look a bit down in the mouth.
Excuse / Pardon My French
Used as an apology for using rude or offensive language.
e.g.– He’s a bl*** nuisance If you’ll excuse my French.
Get On Like a House On Fire
If two people get on like a house on fire, they like each other very much and become friends very quickly.
e.g. – I was worried that they wouldn’t like each other but in fact, they’re getting on like a house on fire .
Give Someone a Taste/Dose Of Their Medicine
To treat someone in the same bad way that they have treated someone else.
e.g.- Tired of his humiliation of me, I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine.
Go To The Dogs
To become much worse in quality or character.
e.g.- After Joe retired, the business went to the dogs .
Have a Bee in One’s Bonnet
To keep talking about something again and again because you think it is very important.
e.g. – She never stops talking about dieting – She’s got a real bee in her bonnet about it.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
To hope that things will happen in the way that you want them to.
e.g.– I’m doing my driving test tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Like Talking to a Brick Wall
Used for saying that someone does not listen or react to you when you talk.
e.g. – I’ve tried to discuss my feelings with her, but it’s – like talking to a brick wall.
Like Turkeys Voting For (an early) Christmas
To choose to accept a situation that will have very bad results for you in the future.
e.g.- It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas if people ask for transport prices in London to rise.
Over The Moon
To be extremely pleased and happy.
e.g.– Charlie got the job. He’s over the moon .
Quick As a Dog Can Lick a Dish
If you do something surprisingly fast, or suddenly, you do it as quickly as a dog licks a dish.
e.g. – He packed his bag as quickly as a dog can lick a dish.
Ready To Drop
To be very tired.
e.g. – By the end of the day, she was ready to drop.
Stand On Your Own Two Feet
To provide yourself with all the things that you need without asking for help.
e.g. – He’s old enough to stand on his own two feet.
To discuss something honestly and directly.
e.g. – Okay, Bob, we have a business to discuss. Let’s talk turkey.
The Jewel In The Crown
If something is the jewel in the crown, it’s part of a group or set of similar things, and it’s the best of them all.
E.g.- Sydney’s Opera House is the jewel in the crown of modern Australian architecture.
Water Under The Bridge
Something that happened in the past and now cannot be changed(it no longer affects the present).
e.g. – Yes, we did have our disagreements, but that’s water under the bridge.
You Can’t Make An Omelet Without Breaking Eggs
It is difficult to achieve something important without causing any unpleasant effects.
e.g. – Twenty jobs will have to be cut if the company is going to be made more efficient. But you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.